Is Red-Wattled Lapwing Vanellus Indicus A Piscivore?

Is Red-Wattled Lapwing Vanellus Indicus A Piscivore?

First published: June 28, 2019 | doi: 10.17087/jbnhs/2019/v116/122813
P. Greeshma and E.A. Jayson
Wildlife Department, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi 680 653 Thrissur, Kerala, India.

Greeshma, P. and E.A. Jayson (2019): Is Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus a piscivore? J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 116. doi: 10.17087/

Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus is a large wader belonging to the family Charadriidae. Paddy fields, river banks, lake beds and lateritic plains form the feeding habitat of Red-wattled Lapwing. Usually they are seen in pairs or small groups. The loud call “did you do it” is characteristic of this species. Red-wattled Lapwing is a ground-dwelling bird and a diurnal forager which feeds on a wide variety of insects, snails, and other invertebrates, mostly picked from the ground. While conducting behavioural studies of birds in Kole wetlands of Thrissur, Kerala (10° 20′–10° 40′ N; 75° 58′–76° 11′ E), on October 07, 2017, around 09:20 hours, a Red-wattled Lapwing was seen catching a fish from the water (water depth 10 cm) from Adatt Kole (10° 32′ 11.77′′ N; 76° 08′ 22.3′′ E), Thrissur. A flock of three Red-wattled Lapwings was seen standing in the rocky area in the wetlands, facing the sun. One among the flock waded into the water which was covered with floating vegetation, caught a fish Puntius amphibius from the water (Fig. 1), held it for about three minutes and then swallowed it.

Fig.1: Red-wattled Lapwing with its fish catch

Studies regarding nest building (Sharma 1992), interaction between dog and Red-wattled Lapwing (Bhatnagar 1978), belly- soaking and nest wetting behaviour (Sundararaman 1989), breeding behaviour (Kalsi and Khera 1990, 1992; Naik et al. 1961), insect feeding behaviour (Babi 1987), agonistic and distraction behaviour (Kalsi and Khera 1987) of Red-wattled Lapwing were described by earlier workers. Foraging studies on Red-wattled Lapwing are scanty, compared to breeding and nesting studies. During April to October, paddy fields are flooded, submerging the foraging ground. The increased population after the breeding (March–June) and reduced foraging ground may lead to the depletion of food items with high protein content. In order to take in substitutes for its protein requirements, Red-wattled Lapwing could be changing to the observed piscivory.


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